Inkstone
    Apr
    24
    2018
    Apr
    24
    2018
    China’s car-hailing giant goes after Uber in Mexico
    China’s car-hailing giant goes after Uber in Mexico
    BUSINESS

    China’s car-hailing giant goes after Uber in Mexico

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    by
    Alan Wong
    Alan Wong
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    China’s “Uber slayer” isn’t quite done yet.

    Two years after Didi Chuxing fended off Uber’s challenge at home, China’s biggest car-hailing company is going after one of its US rival’s most important foreign markets, in Mexico.

    On Monday, Didi announced on its website that it had started providing ride-hailing service Didi Express in Toluca, the capital city of the most populous state of the country, the State of Mexico.

    A Didi Chuxing employee outside the new drivers’ center in Toluca, Mexico
    A Didi Chuxing employee outside the new drivers’ center in Toluca, Mexico Photo: Reuters/Carlos Jasso

    This is the first time Didi has taken Uber head on since the two companies engaged in a bitter and costly fight for market share in China.

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    Uber lost that tussle, and in 2016 sold its China business to Didi for a minority stake in Didi. Two months after Uber’s exit, Bloomberg Businessweek put Didi’s founder, Cheng Wei, on its cover, calling him the “Uber slayer.”

    Didi Chuxing founder on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek.
    Didi Chuxing founder on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek. Photo: Bloomberg

    Founded three years after Uber in 2012, Didi is fast catching up with its US counterpart in more than just reach.

    On Tuesday, Didi was said to be discussing an initial public offering this year with a target valuation at $70 to $80 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    That amount is on par with Uber’s latest valuation, at about $70 billion. Uber is planning its own IPO by 2019.

    Didi’s target valuation further lifts its profile as one of the most valuable private technology companies in the world.

    The public listing’s success will partly hinge on whether Didi will manage to score a bigger slice of the global market, as it faces fresh challenges to its dominance at home from other Chinese tech giants.

    A Didi Chuxing driver outside the new drivers’ center in Toluca, Mexico
    A Didi Chuxing driver outside the new drivers’ center in Toluca, Mexico Photo: Reuters/Carlos Jasso

    Didi’s move into Latin America was the first step it took outside Asia under its own brand, although it has invested in or acquired Uber’s local competitors around the world, such as India’s Ola and Brazil’s 99.

    It started recruiting drivers in Toluca in early April to “an enthusiastic response,” the company said in an announcement. Didi is partly backed by the Alibaba group, which also owns Inkstone. Apple has also invested $1 billion in the company.

    Didi Chuxing drivers display the Mexican version of the app.
    Didi Chuxing drivers display the Mexican version of the app. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Jasso

    Didi’s international expansion represents the ambition of Chinese technology companies to grow their business beyond their increasingly wealthy home country, already the world’s most populous.

    For Uber, the market leader in Mexico with millions of users in more than 40 cities, Didi’s challenge adds another uncertainty to its planned IPO.

    What's for sure is that this is unlikely the last time these two companies slug it out.

    ALAN WONG
    ALAN WONG
    Alan is editor at Inkstone. He was previously a digital editor for The New York Times in Hong Kong.

    ALAN WONG
    ALAN WONG
    Alan is editor at Inkstone. He was previously a digital editor for The New York Times in Hong Kong.

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